A massive earthquake off Indonesia's western coast triggered tsunami fears across the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, sending residents in coastal cities fleeing to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles.
A strong aftershock nearly three hours later sparked a new wave of panic. Indonesia's government responded by issuing a fresh tsunami warning.
Some residents were crying in Ache, where memories of a 2004 tsunami that killed 170,000 people in the province alone, are still raw. Others screamed "God is great" as they poured from their homes or searched frantically for separated family members.
Indonesia has issued a fresh tsunami warning after an aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 shook its western coast.
The first 8.6-magnitude quake off Ache province, hours earlier, spawned a wave around 30 inches (80 centimeters) high but caused no serious damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the strong temblor that followed was centered 10 miles (16 kilometers) beneath the ocean around 380 miles (615 kilometers) from the provincial capital, Banda Ache.
Harjadi, a local official who goes by only one name, said the new tsunami warning was for residents living along the western coast of the country.
It included Sumatra island and the Mentawai islands.
To the Media News correspondent Celia Hatton reports from Beijing that downed phone lines and power outages have made it very difficult for the Indonesian government to get information on possible casualties from the earthquake. In Banda Ache, Ache’s main provincial city, Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said sirens and Koran recitals were heard from mosques around the city.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the first 8.6-magnitude quake was centered 20 miles beneath the ocean floor around 269 miles from Ache province.